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Page 3 Profile: Beth Tweddle, Olmypic bronze medal-winning gymnast

She’s hanging up her leotard?

We’ve cheered for and cried with her and yesterday – the anniversary of her Olympic bronze medal win – Team GB gymnast Tweddle announced she was bowing out of the sport, aged 28.

Blimey, isn’t that a bit young to be pulling a pension?

Not in the world of gymnastics. With some exceptions – Oksana Chusovitina of Germany is 38 – many don’t stay in the sport much past 20.

How’s her trophy cabinet looking?

Well stocked. Winning a gold and two silvers at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester aged 17, she went from strength to strength. She’s now the UK’s most decorated gymnast, holding three world and six European golds, along with her Olympic bronze. More importantly, through her success Tweddle has revolutionised the sport in this country, drawing the attention of judges, funding bodies and sponsors to the sport and showing younger gymnasts that Blighty can stand proud at the balance beam and uneven bars.

So why’s she calling it a day?

Amazingly she took her place on the Olympic podium after a long battle with an injury, which saw her knee strapped in an icing machine every night. Explaining her decision to retire, she said: “Following the Olympics I’ve had a lot of projects on and recently I’ve had a bit more time to get back into the gym and decide whether I could put 100 per cent into it. I know now deep down that I can’t commit to the hours and training to remain at the very top.”

Such grace!

Don’t worry, her skill for falling through the air won’t go to waste as she plans to take up skydiving. Speaking about the prospect of retirement she said: “I want to be able to meet up with friends ... go skydiving, or skiing or wingwalking”.

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